|Publication number||US6738507 B2|
|Application number||US 09/757,174|
|Publication date||May 18, 2004|
|Filing date||Jan 9, 2001|
|Priority date||Jan 9, 2001|
|Also published as||US20020090130|
|Publication number||09757174, 757174, US 6738507 B2, US 6738507B2, US-B2-6738507, US6738507 B2, US6738507B2|
|Inventors||Evangelos Liasi, Jing Wu, Cathy Bingfeng Xi|
|Original Assignee||Ford Global Technologies, Llc|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (7), Referenced by (22), Classifications (8), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The full content of a pending application entitled APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR CHECKING THE SHAPE OF A MANUFACTURED PART, Ser. No. 09/663406, filed Sep. 15, 2000 (Attorney Docket No. 199-1197), is incorporated herein by reference.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to apparatus and method for correlating the geometry of a manufactured part, the geometry of a tool for manufacturing the part, and the geometry of the master design of the part toward the objectives of more efficiently making and maintaining the tool and more efficiently designing and making other tools.
2. Background Information
Dimensional accuracy of manufactured parts is a vital aspect of mass-production techniques. For example, the body of an automotive vehicle comprises a number of individual body panels that fit together. Dimensional inaccuracies in such parts may lead to poor fits that could distract from appearance and/or impair function. Such a body panel is typically a formed metal part or a formed synthetic or composite part. One example of a formed metal part is a metal stamping fabricated by metal stamping machines that perform metal stamping processes. Processes other than stamping may be used to form metal parts. Molding processes may be used to form synthetic or composite parts.
Common to such processes is the presence of a tool having a surface that imparts a similar shape to the manufactured part. Because of the nature of a particular manufacturing process, the geometry of the part may differ from that of the tool surface used to form the part. And when a new tool is first tried out, it may be discovered that the part geometry does not match that of the master design of the part.
A physical characteristic of metal is its inherent elasticity. Some metals have greater elasticity than others. Steel for example typically has greater elasticity that aluminum. Drawing a flat metal sheet to a contoured shape stretches certain local regions of the sheet beyond the elastic limit to create plastic flow of material that causes the sheet to assume the contoured shape. Other regions of the material that are stretched only within the elastic limit will relax after the draw. Such relaxation is commonly referred to as springback.
One way to draw metal is by a stamping press that contains a stamping tool. The stamping tool includes a punch on a ram of the press and a die that sits on a bed of the press. A metal sheet disposed between the punch and the die will be drawn to a formed shape when the punch and die are pressed together. The formed shape is established by the shapes of working surfaces of the punch and die.
Because of metal springback, principles of metal stamping call for a tool to impart a certain degree of overbend into a draw to compensate for springback. Because of the complex contours of some stamped parts, clear definition of the regions where springback will occur and the extent of springback in such regions are often problematic before a new tool is first tried out. Hence, the successful design of a new tool may depend more on the judgment, skills, and past experiences of its designers, rather than on detailed engineering analyses and calculations, but even at that, a new tool must be tried out.
Tool tryout has historically been a time-consuming process, typically involving a succession of various operations by skilled workers, before the new tool is able to stamp a part with the required dimensional accuracy. For example, if a punch or die is found to require additional machining, such as milling, it must be removed from a tryout press, transported to a milling machine, fixtured in the milling machine and machined, transported back to the tryout press and re-loaded, and again tried out. Newly machined areas typically require refinishing and polishing. The handling of a tool for making a body panel is often cumbersome and time-consuming because of its large size and weight. Moreover, the steps just described may have to be repeated until design intent is finally achieved.
A stamping tool has to be maintained during use. It may become worn, or even break. Tool maintenance can also consume significant amounts of time. A reworked tool may have to be tried in a tryout press before it can return to production stamping.
Apparatus and methods that improve efficiency of making and maintaining a forming tool, such as a stamping tool, will have obvious benefit to industry.
The present invention relates to apparatus and methods for improving efficiency of making and maintaining forming tools.
Certain principles of the invention involve scanning using any of various known optical shape measuring techniques. A sensor, such as an optical shape measurement camera for example, is used to record views of an object from a number of different spatial locations. Although each individual view is two-dimensional in nature, the proper number and locations of the views can collectively define a three-dimensional shape for the object with a desired degree of resolution. Processing of the scanned views by a processor, such as in a computer system running known shape measurement programming, can then define, within the accuracy of the equipment, the three-dimensional shape of the object to a desired degree of resolution.
Principles of the present invention utilize these known technologies to capture images of a tool surface and a part formed by the tool surface. The images are processed by a computer system that runs known shape measurement programming to develop a set of data defining the three-dimensional shape of the tool surface and a set of data defining the three-dimensional shape of the formed part. Each set of data is then compared with the other to disclose differences between them. Such differences are indicative of springback in the case of stamped metal. The differences may be presented in any suitable format or medium. The data may even be processed for presentation as images on a visual display such as a monitor.
In similar fashion, the shape of the part is compared to the master design for the part. Significant enough differences are indicative of a need to re-work the tool. It is believed that the use of those differences in conjunction with information derived by comparing the tool surface geometry and the formed part geometry can aid skilled tool designers and makers in determining how best to re-work the tool so that it can form parts that are fully compliant with design intent represented by the master part geometry, thereby improving efficiency of the process of making the tool.
The shape of the tool may also be compared to the master design for the part and shape of successive re-works of the tool may be compared with each other to establish relationships of how the part shape changes in consequence of changes in the geometry of the tool. This can provide data useful in any further re-work of the tool and a history that can be used in the design of other tools.
The apparatus and method for improving efficiency of tool making processes and tool maintenance processes according to the present invention arise, at least in part, through the appreciation that optical scanning can be used as a practical technique for measuring both a tool and a formed part and of the availability of computer data processing equipment that can rapidly process large amounts of data, such as that generated in implementing an optical scanning process as a step in a method for ascertaining differences between the geometry of a forming tool and a part formed by the tool.
Individual pieces of commercially available equipment that have sufficient insensitivity to the surrounding environment such as that found in and around a tool room can be used in practice of the invention.
Stated in a general way, the invention relates to apparatus and method useful in a process of making and/or maintaining a surface of a tool used to form a part. It comprises a series of steps including scanning the tool surface with an optical shape measurement camera to obtain a first set of electronic images from different views of the tool surface and processing the electronic images to develop a first set of data defining the three-dimensional shape of the tool surface. It further comprises scanning the part surface of a part made by the tool with an optical shape measurement camera to obtain a second set of electronic images from different views of a surface of the part formed by the tool surface, and processing the electronic images of the second set of images to develop a second set of data defining the three-dimensional shape of the part surface. It further comprises processing two selected sets of three sets of data to develop a fourth set of data defining differences between the two selected sets of data. The third set of data defines the master shape of the part surface.
Another aspect of the invention relates to a method of making and/or maintaining a surface of a tool used to form a part comprising scanning the tool surface with an optical shape measurement camera to obtain electronic images from different views of the tool surface, processing the electronic images to develop a first set of data defining three-dimensional shape of the tool surface, and processing the first set of data with a second set of data having a correlation with the shape of the tool surface to develop a third set of data defining differences between the first and second sets of data.
Further aspects of the invention, and its various advantages and benefits, will be seen from the following detailed description of a presently preferred embodiment of the invention.
The drawings that will now be briefly described are incorporated herein to illustrate a best mode presently contemplated for carrying out the invention.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary environment for practice of certain aspects of the invention.
FIG. 2 is a diagram depicting general steps of the inventive method.
FIG. 3 is a diagram depicting more detail of the steps of the inventive method.
FIG. 1 illustrates a representative environment for carrying out a portion of a method according to principles of the present invention. It shows a scanning room 10 containing apparatus 12 for optical shape measurement of forming tools and parts formed by the tools. The inventive principles will be described in connection with a metal stamping tool on the understanding that those principles are generic to various forming tools. Room 10 may be located in a tool room set off from the work floor.
FIG. 1 shows one part 14 of a tool disposed on a bed, table, or other horizontal surface 16 such that a working surface 18 of part 14 faces in a suitable direction for scanning. In the case of a stamping tool for example, part 14 may be a die or punch, and in the illustrated example surface 18 faces vertically upward. Proximate surface 16 is a manipulator 20, such as a robot, having a positioning mechanism 21 that is capable of positioning an optical measurement camera shape camera 22 to various positions for viewing working surface 18.
An optical shape measurement system, of which camera 22 is a component part, can be any of various conventional systems. The example shown in the drawing comprises a single sensor that is electrically connected to a computer system for transmitting electronic images captured by the sensor to the computer system. The optical shape measurement system is operated to capture images defining the shape of working surface 18, or at least one or more areas of the working surface that are of interest, in different views. The captured images are processed by the computer system to develop spatial data defining the shape of either all or a portion of working surface 18. That data is sometimes referred to as a data point cloud.
Either before or after the scanning of surface 18, a part that has been stamped by the tool is also scanned to develop spatial data defining the shape of either all or a portion of its surface formed by the tool. The patent application referenced above describes a procedure for fixturing and scanning a stamped part.
The computer system also contains a memory for electronically storing a set of data defining a master shape (i.e., design intent) of the part. That data may be derived from a CAD (computer aided design) model of the part.
The processing of the aforementioned data sets provides data defining: A) differences between the stamped part and the part master shape; and B) differences between the stamped part and the tool working surface. The latter differences are indicative of springback that occurs in the part after stamping. The processing may also provide data defining: C) differences between the tool working surface and the part master shape;
If the differences between the stamped part and the part master shape are insignificant, the tool is working properly. If they are not, the tool needs to be re-worked in some way, in which case, the measurement of springback provided by the differences between the stamped part and the tool working surface can aid the tool designer and the tool maker in making a determination of how best to re-work the tool so that it will stamp a part matching the design intent.
The process that has been described is depicted schematically in FIG. 2 as a series of steps 30, 32, 34, 36, beginning with part design (obtained from CAD data) and concluding with a finished tool that stamps a part to a shape conforming to design intent defined by the CAD data. The process iterates until the tool stamps a part meeting part design intent. Step 30, designated as expert system in the Figure, comprises a data base and algorithms that are useful in developing data defining the extent to which the tool working surfaces should be modified in order to stamp a part that meets design intent. The expert system may have an adaptive capability enabling it to learn from how a previously suggested tool modification changed the shape of the stamped part. The data base and algorithms may have specific or universal application depending on the nature of the particular tool and particular part.
FIG. 3 discloses further detail of the iterative process. A pre-processing phase 40 precedes the part/tool scanning phase 42. The latter phase is followed by a post-processing phase 44.
Pre-processing phase 40 essentially comprises defining how the tool and part are to be scanned. It seeks to optimize the scanning process while assuring that all relevant areas will actually be scanned. It defines a scan path along which manipulator 20 is to move camera 22, and supplies that path as a file to the computer system that exercises supervisory control over scanning phase 42.
Part/tool scanning phase 42 comprises a number of steps 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62 that constitute the scanning procedure described above. The steps include provision for checking the image of each scan to assure that factors such as scan angle and lighting did not impair the scan (step 52). If impairment is indicated, correction is made (step 58) and the scan is repeated (step 60). Ultimately, scanning phase 42 concludes upon the attainment of complete point clouds for both tool and stamped part.
Post-processing phase 44 process the point clouds from scanning phase 42 and the master shape data for the part to yield the results described above. Those results are used for further tool modification if needed, and they may also be used to update the expert system.
The invention also contemplates scanning of a tool as cast before any machining of the casting.
While a presently preferred embodiment has been illustrated and described, it is to be appreciated that the invention may be practiced in various forms within the scope of the following claims.
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|U.S. Classification||382/152, 382/154, 700/175|
|Cooperative Classification||G05B19/4097, G05B2219/35044, Y02P90/265|
|Jan 9, 2001||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: FORD MOTOR COMPANY, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:LIASI, EVANGELOS;WU, JING;XI, CATHY BINGFENG;REEL/FRAME:011451/0126;SIGNING DATES FROM 20001214 TO 20010103
|Apr 22, 2003||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: FORD GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, MICHIGAN
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:FORD GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES, INC.;REEL/FRAME:013987/0838
Effective date: 20030301
Owner name: FORD GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES, LLC,MICHIGAN
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:FORD GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES, INC.;REEL/FRAME:013987/0838
Effective date: 20030301
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